Wrapping up the weekend that was in the Land of 10, Week 6 …
The Point After
Rutgers and Michigan have a history, and it’s not pretty. Which, in part, explains why Jim Harbaugh kept going for two despite being up four touchdowns and having the Scarlet Knights face down and groggy on the canvas.
So Wolverines 78, Rutgers 0 was a bit about proving a point. Or rather, proving almost 80 of them.
But there might be a little bit of something else in there, too. Because this was one of those not-terribly-sexy intersectional scorelines from back in Week 1:
Washington 48, Rutgers 13
See where we’re going with this?
The College Football Playoff selection committee has a truckload of pretty detailed statistics in front of them, enough data to make the head spin. But these are administrators and, in many cases, former coaches. And they can go on and on about game film and breaking each team down individually and the rest, but the bottom line for them is the same as the bottom line for the guy in the cubicle next to you:
Who did you beat, where did you beat ’em and how badly did you beat ’em by?
Washington 48, Rutgers 13
Ohio State 58, Rutgers 0
Michigan 78, Rutgers 0
Don’t think it won’t get brought up.
Because if the endgame is getting two Big Ten teams into college football’s final four, it looks as if the conversation could well be about comparing apples to the Apple Cup. Right on the heels of undefeated elites Alabama (6-0), the Buckeyes (6-0), the Wolverines (6-0) and Clemson (6-0)? The Huskies (6-0), who under ex-Boise State coach Chris Peterson are re-channeling their inner Don James and slapping the rest of the Pac-12 around like it’s 1991 all over again.
Now we’ll grant you, comparative scorelines are an overly simplistic way of evaluating teams, the kind of things done in coffee shops on Sunday mornings in the 1970s and ’80s when newspapers would run miles of regional scores from across the country. This is 2016, and every major team is on television somewhere; every major highlight is a meme just waiting to happen. We may not know every Power 5 school, but we feel as if we’ve almost all seen them at least once.
Nor would we necessarily infer that the Buckeyes and Wolverines danced all over Chris Ash these past two, painful weekends in order to outpace Washington. Or to try and curry favor with Condoleezza Rice.
We will, however, say this: It probably doesn’t hurt.
Things that impressed the CFP committee
- Finally, someone made the Buckeyes sweat at home — a little. It was tight for three quarters before Team Urban pulled away from Indiana with a 38-17 victory in Columbus. The Hoosiers didn’t get as much hey-we-won-the-perception-battle-while-losing-the-game love as Wisconsin did at Michigan the week before, but with Michigan State slipping off the grid, the title of “Third Best Team in the East” is up for grabs. And if the Hoosiers (3-2, 1-1) keep this up, they might have as good a shot as any to creep up the standings.
- There hasn’t been a hit in Jersey like that since David Chase closed the books on “The Sopranos” in 2007. Michigan’s 78-0 win at Rutgers was the most points the Wolverines have rung up in a game since 1939 against ex-Big Ten stalwart the University of Chicago. The Wolverines also tied a school record with nine rushing touchdowns in Piscataway and outgained the Knights by a count of 600 yards to 39.
And the thing that didn’t
- The only thing worse for the Big Ten’s playoff mojo than Michigan State’s freefall is if the Spartans would recover just in time to somehow take out Michigan or Ohio State at home. And stranger things have happened.
One man’s rolling Heisman Ballot (Big Ten edition)
- Jabrill Peppers, OLB/QB/PR, Michigan. The New Jersey native — one of several good ones on Harbaugh’s roster — had a heck of a homecoming, running for 74 yards and two touchdowns out of the quarterback spot while also collecting a half-tackle for a loss defensively.
- J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State. Last week, arm; this week, legs: 93 yards passing, 226 total yards, one touchdown, one interception.
- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. His 202 rushing yards against Maryland were a new personal high. And speaking of high:
— USA Sports News (@USAsports988) October 9, 2016
Thanks for coming, hope we didn’t hurt your boys too bad
Michigan 78, Rutgers 0
Lesson: If you keep poking the bear, Chris Ash, that bear, given a chance, will go medieval on your backside.
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) October 9, 2016
Not even a pro like Dave Revsine can spin this bad boy
BYU 31, Michigan State 14
The Spartans (2-3) are hurting in every sense now — physically, emotionally, you name it. The offense needs a change in something, if not at quarterback. And the most alarming thing if you’re coach Mark Dantonio is the way the Cougars were able to control the ball in the second half, move the chains and grind out the clock at will. BYU out-Spartaned the Spartans in East Lansing, and those are the kind of setbacks that leave a mark.
So, apparently, putting a hit out on Joey Julius is a thing
In Week 5, Minnesota’s Jaylen Waters wanted to make a point to the beefy Penn State kicker, and got ejected as a result. Well, whatever Julius is saying to rile up the other team’s pursuit, it’s working. It happened to him again, this time drawing the wrath of Maryland’s Isaiah Davis:
— Isiret Daniel (@IsiretD) October 9, 2016
Davis got tossed, too. Which begs the question: Is there a bounty out on Big No. 99?
unit dude of the week (tie)
Chayce Crouch, Illinois. Illinois absolutely let a beautiful chance for a home win slip through its fingers Saturday to Purdue, a kidney punch of a 34-31 overtime loss. But the Illini might’ve found a spark at quarterback in the sophomore, who ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns, giving a struggling offense a dual-threat at signal-caller and a dimension that Wes Lunt doesn’t.
Brian Lankford-Johnson, Purdue. In one afternoon, the freshman running back from St. Paul doubled his career carry count (came in with nine, picked up 18 against the Illini) and his career yards (came in with 63 and ran for 127).
unit dude of the week (not that he asked to be)
Michael Cintron, Rutgers. The Knights’ punter didn’t ask for this kind of volume — Rutgers was 0-for-17 on third down and 2-for-18 passing against the Wolverines — but he collected more touches (16) Saturday than any single one of the six players who logged time in Ash’s backfield (Robert Martin and Zach Allen had 11 each).
We’re just thrilled to see Darrell Hazell happy again, Part I
If you’d had as crummy a week of Hazell, then watched a lead at Illinois go up in smoke, then called timeout three straight times to try and ice Illini kicker Chase McLaughlin and force overtime, and then saw McLaughlin miss a 41-yarder as time expired … well, you’d be kicking your heels, too:
ICYMI: Darrell Hazell had a great reaction to a missed Illinois FG that brought OT (Purdue would win): pic.twitter.com/8AUfKhKx75
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) October 9, 2016
Welcome to the Hot Seat, pal
Tracy Claeys, Minnesota
The preseason darlings to win the West are darlings no more. And probably West contenders no more, too. Senior quarterback Mitch Leidner’s performance didn’t do his coach any favors (13-for-33 passing, two interceptions), but among the more curious moments of a curious 14-7 home loss to Iowa were the final 90 seconds of the first half. With the Hawkeyes up 3-0, the visitors were slipping backward, facing a 2nd-and-20 at their own 32 with 1:20 left and a 3rd-and-22 with 54 seconds to go. Instead of forcing the issue, riverboat gambler Claeys elected to pocket the timeouts. Given Leidner’s complete dumpster fire of a first half, maybe Claeys figured his best option was to bag it and start fresh in the third quarter. But a campaign that opened with a 3-0 record and pockets of hope has turned into 3-2, 0-2 in the Big Ten and a growing pile of what-ifs.
Fake Bo Pelini tweet of the week (National League Division Series edition)
If you see Hunter Pence in a clown suit in the woods just kill yourself
— Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) October 6, 2016
We’re just thrilled to see Darrell Hazell happy again, Part II
Although it should be pointed out that of Hazell’s three career Big Ten victories, two are over the Illini:
Purdue beats Illinois in OT. Darrell Hazell now 2-0 in Champaign, 1-23 in Big Ten play everywhere else
— Don Doxsie (@Dox5) October 8, 2016
So maybe we shouldn’t call off the dogs quite yet. Either that, or the Boilermakers need to petition the league to move all future home games to Champaign. Given the mess at Ross-Ade Stadium as of late, maybe that’s not such a wacky idea.
Alumni note of the week
Toronto Blue Jays starter — and former Northwestern hurler — J.A. Happ notched his first career Major League postseason victory on Friday, scattering nine hits and one run over five innings in Arlington, Texas, to pace a 5-3 victory over the Rangers in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
The 33-year-old left-hander had made only one previous playoff start, for the Phillies in the 2009 NLDS, and didn’t factor in the decision after surrendering three runs on six hits in the first three innings against the Rockies in Denver.
Fake Bo Pelini tweet of the week (Stephanie Abrams edition)
.@weatherchannel How do you guys find out what a hurricane’s name is
— Fake Bo Pelini (@FauxPelini) October 7, 2016
3 games coming up we’d seriously pay to watch
- Ohio State at Wisconsin (8 p.m. ET, ABC). Alex Hornibrook’s shot at redemption, and J.T. Barrett’s shot to add another plank to his Heisman platform.
- Nebraska at Indiana (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2). The Hoosiers actually lead the overall series 9-7-3, and the Huskers are riding four-game winning streak head-to-head. The last time the Big Red visited Bloomington in 1978, Lee Corso was IU’s coach and Tom Osborne handed him a 69-17 shellacking.
- Northwestern at Michigan State (3:30 p.m. ET, BTN). If Sparty wants off the mat, they need to start by taking it out on the ‘Cats.
The takeaway number
As in, the last time a Michigan team defeated at least two different opponents by 56 points or more in the same season before this fall (Rutgers, 78-0; Hawaii, 63-3). Bo Schembechler’s third Wolverines squad was one of his best, trouncing Virginia 56-0 in September and Iowa 63-7 in November en route to an unbeaten regular season (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten) — the program’s first perfect regular season since 1948 — and a berth in the 1972 Rose Bowl. Despite being 10.5-point favorites over Stanford, the Wolverines fell in Pasadena, 13-12.